There is No Such Thing as a Successful (Full Time) Artist



Yes. You read that right. There is no such thing as a successful (full-time) artist.
“Ann. What do you mean? Aren’t you a successful full-time artist?”
No. Sorry to burst your bubble but I’m not. I’m both an artist and an entrepreneur and that is why I am successful, in the conventional sense of the word.
If you’re not too concerned with selling your art then this is not really the place for you.
But let’s face it. Is there anything that ignites creative inspiration like a sale? I know that it infuses me with energy and enthusiasm.
Anyway. My point is this. Successful artists are also entrepreneurs. So are physicians or attorneys who run their own practices or professional athletes.
A physician practices medicine but they must also keep up with the latest developments in medicine, generate new business, manage their practice, deal with insurance, keep an eye on cash flow, hire and fire staff, etc. You get the point. They have many realms to manage and to balance with the realm of practicing medicine.
It’s the same for a plumber, a real estate agent, or a hip-hop music mogul.
If you want someone else to take care of all that business mumbo jumbo, good luck finding that someone else.
Again. If you’re not too concerned with selling your art then this blog is not really the place for you.
But if you would like to sell your art, or more of it, I’ve identified eight sequential foundational realms of building a creative enterprise that must be balanced with your creative practice.
I’m giving you my blue print. It is the same blue print, or road map, that I use to build my art business and the one that I have coached other artists through.
The good news is that, assuming you actually have artistic talent, each of the eight realms can be mastered by most people who are intelligent and diligent. And this describes most artists who I know.
The hardest part for artists to get their head wrapped around is marketing, or as I call it, the “Visioning” realm.
I absolutely LOVE marketing. Why? Because the very best marketing is extraordinarily creative and it is engaging. Just like art.
I look at creating marketing strategies much like creating a painting.
When I paint I have a blank canvas, some paint, and an idea. Then I weave those together and I create a painting.
When I develop marketing strategies for Ann Rea, Inc., or for other artists, we define the artist’s mission, unique value proposition, pain alleviated or problem solved, and their objective. Then I weave these together and create a marketing strategy that will help the artist reach a target market.
Does every marketing strategy work? No.
Does every painting work? No.
Sometimes the first attempt, or the first draft, works beautifully but usually the last attempt informs the next. It is an iterative process.
Why is the marketing of your art so important? That’s obvious if you want to sell it but what artists often don’t appreciate is that the mission and the marketing behind your art creates more value for your collectors and inspires your creativity.
The bottom line is this. Every artist is an entrepreneur and every entrepreneur is an artist. Consequently, there is no such thing as a successful (full-time) artist.

Or as Andy Warhol said, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

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  1. Stephen says

    Ann Rea,

    Both your article and the response to the comment are insightful, germane and astute. Thank you…I think the title was perfect and the content presented well. As an artist and entrepreneur, I could relate so well to what you’ve suggested. And I love that you are passionate about the marketing process and see it as a creative mechanism. We absolutely need resources like you….

    Stephen Bryer
    The Urban Artisan

  2. says

    Actually there is absolutely nothing misleading in the title.

    It’s a statement of fact that many artists do not understand.

    “you will have to delegate the responsibility of marketing to somebody if you can’t do it.” My point is that this notion is a complete fantasy. (There is no somebody else.)

    If an artist is holding out hope that there will be (someone else) they will be very disappointed AND they can very easily be taken advantage of by predators.

  3. Sergio says

    The title is a little bit misleading. I feel like the sentiment is a little bit obvious. It’s sort of like saying, “there are no healthy people who only drink water.” Well yea, of course you have to eat too. But you don’t necessarily have to cook all of your food. If you want to spend all your time painting, you will have to delegate the responsibility of marketing to somebody if you can’t do it.

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